Sun. Sep 25th, 2022
SOCIAL media giant Pinterest has apologised after tragic schoolgirl Molly Russell killed herself after viewing suicide posts on its website.

An executive from the photo sharing platform told an inquest he “deeply regrets” and is “sorry” for disturbing content viewed by the 14-year-old before her death.

PA:Press Association

Molly Russell from Harrow, north-west London, ended her life in November 2017[/caption]

Judson Hoffman, the company’s head of community operations, admitted emails sent to Molly were “the type of content that we wouldn’t like anyone spending a lot of time with”.

One such email was chillingly titled “10 depression pins you might like“, another “depression recovery, depressed girl and more pins trending on Pinterest”.

The teen, from Harrow, north-west London, ended her life in November 2017 – her tragic death sparked a campaign by her family for better internet safety.

Giving evidence from the witness box at North London Coroner’s Court on Thursday, Mr Hoffman was taken through a huge number of “disturbing” images Molly had viewed on the site.

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They all related to self-harm, suicide and depression.

The court was also shown two streams of content the 14-year-old saw.

It compared the material she viewed earlier in her use of the platform with that in the months closer to her death.

By contrast, earlier content viewed by Molly included a wide variety of material – it then became more and more sinister.


Pinterest describes itself as a “visual discovery engine for finding ideas”.

Users can save the “pins” they see to their own “boards” – in court, the company said this was akin to creating an online collage.

Asked by Oliver Sanders KC, the lawyer representing Molly’s family, if he agreed that the type of content had changed, he said he did.

He said he was “sorry it happened” adding “I deeply regret that she was able to access some of the content shown”.

The executive said the technology available to the company now was “just not available to us” before Molly’s death.

Mr Hoffman was then asked if he believed the images in the emails sent by the company were “safe for children to see”.

You’re Not Alone

EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.

It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.

It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.

And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

Yet it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.

That is why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.

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Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You’re Not Alone.

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He replied: “I will say that this is the type of content that we wouldn’t like anyone spending a lot of time with.”

Mr Sanders said “particularly children” would find it “very difficult… to make sense” of the content, to which Mr Hoffman replied: “Yes.”

But the Pinterest executive admitted some images he was shown were ones he would “not show to my children”.

The inquest was told Molly made a number of boards on Pinterest, including two of interest to proceedings.

Mr Sanders said one board was called “stay strong”, which tended to “have more positive” material pinned to it.

The other board, with “much more downbeat, negative content”, was called “nothing to worry about”.

On Thursday, Molly’s dad Ian Russell was shown posts by his daughter on Twitter where she approached celebrities and social media influencers for help.

One tweet from Molly sent to American actress Lili Reinhart said: “I can’t take it any more. I need to reach out to someone, I just can’t take it.”

Mr Russell said he believed “social media helped kill my daughter”, that there is still too much dangerous content online and that Molly would have conflated harmful and “normal” content she saw.

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He added: “Children shouldn’t be on a platform that presents a risk to their lives.”

The inquest, due to last up to two weeks, continues.

Contact the Samaritans

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, contact The Samaritans on 116 123.

They are available for free at anytime.

Or email https://www.samaritans.org/

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